Endless Summer

10 Great Books for 3-Year Olds (That You Probably Havn’t Read)

January2

My daughter devours books, and at 3 years old, her book collection has far surpassed my own (sad but true!). Since we spend a lot of our time reading, and I’m often asked for kid-centic suggestions on toys, books and the latest and greatest childrens doodads, I’ve decided to make a list of our top ten best books for 3-year olds…and here it is!

Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beaty

Iggy Peck The ArchitectI absolutely LOVE this book. “Iggy Peck, Architect” is about a boy that has loved building/architecture since he was in diapers. This adorable story is cute, funny and fun to read. My daughter loves the illustration of the mad neighbor (mad, after baby Iggy’s dirt replica of the great Sphinx, results in wayward dirt clods flung in his general direction…). After someone tells Iggy that his passion for building is unimportant, he proves them wrong and ends up saving the day.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy” by Oliver Jeffers

The Incredible Book Eating BoyThis is currently my favorite book to read to my 3-year old. It’s unusual story line, great illustrations, interesting layout and cute twist at the end, make for a family favorite. “The Incredible Book Eating Boy” wants to be the smartest person in the world and I think that is a pretty great thing that kids should want to emulate.

Surfer Chick” by Kristy Dempsey

Surfer Chick BookI happened upon this book while in California and bought it on a whim without reading the story first. I love that “Surfer Chick” is a tale of a girl and her dad, and that it’s a bit of a coming of age tale about persistence and the greatest sport in the world: surfing. The illustrations are cute and the rhyming story of this surfer chick learning to surf like her dad is fun to read and listen to.

The Snail and The Whale” by Julia Donaldson

The Snail and The WhaleI bought this great book for my daughter while on St John (an island in the caribbean), and absolutely love the story of a snail that wants to travel and see the amazing world. There is also a good lesson packed into “The Snail and The Whale” story about being able to make a difference no matter how small you may feel in comparison to this big world.

You’re Not So Scary, Sid!” by Sam Lloyd

You're Not So Scary Sid BookThis book was a gift from family friends in Vermont and while it was probably purchased because our daughters nickname is Syd, it has turned out to be a favorite of pretty much any 2 – 5 year old that I’ve read it to. This book has a built in puppet that goes along with the story and this fun childrens story teaches to not judge a book by its cover and to be compassionate.

Room On The Broom” by Julia Donaldson

Room on the Broom BookI bought “Room On The Broom” because it was written by the same author as “The Snail and The Whale”, and I was pleasantly surprised that my daughter and I enjoyed this book as much (or more!) as “The Snail and The Whale”. This is a story of a friendly witch, making friends on her journey, who just so happen to help her out (using teamwork) after a run in with a hungry dragon.

I Can Save The Ocean!” by Alison Inches

I Can Save The Ocean BookThis is a book I picked up while in Saint Thomas and my daughter really likes this one. “I Can Save The Ocean” is a cute tale of a little green monster that doesn’t know any better than to leave his litter on the beach, until he learns through experience that litter makes things he enjoys ugly, and he sets off to learn more about how he can help save the ocean by developing better habits. This book also has a small glossary of “green” words (such as “biodegradable”) that kids probably hear often and could use a kid-friendly description of.

Me…Jane” by Patrick McDonnell
Me...Jane BookThis adorable book is a simple, kids-version of how Dr. Jane Goodall (environmentalist, humanitarian and United Nations Messenger of Peace) grew up to realize her dreams of living a life being one with nature. The illustrations in “Me…Jane”, which are also by the author, who is the creator of the popular comic strip “Mutts”, make this book as fun to look at, as it is to read.

Library Lion” by Michelle Knudsen

The Library LionA cute story about a lion that wandered into a library one day, and decides that he wants to stay. “Library Lion” tells a substantial tale about following the rules, but also that it’s sometimes okay to break them too. The lovable lion in this book makes my heart melt and the muted color palate of the illustrations are a nice change from the typical bright/bold, cartoony drawings that are popular in children’s books nowadays.

We Were Tired of Living in a House” by Liesel Moak Skorpen

We Were Tired Of Living In A HouseThe story of a family of children that decided that they were fed up with their parents rules (and living in a house) and set out to live in various other locations…like a tree! Or a cave! This is actually a book that was read to me as a child and was given to me by my mom to read to my daughter. I’m pretty sure it was the influence of this book (as well as the “Pippi Longstockings” movies) that shaped my think-outside-the-box-and-go-live-in-a-tree attitude. This book was first published in 1969, and I think there is a newer version, but I prefer the artful illustrations in the original.

So there you have it! My tried and true favorite books for kids/toddlers in the 3-year old age range (these books are actually great for 2 – 4 year-olds, in my opinion). Do you have any favorite kids books to add? Let me know and leave a comment with your recommendations below! We are always looking for cool new books to add to Sydney’s library. :)

posted under Books, Kids | No Comments »

Earning Money with Luminate? – A Review of Luminate.com (Formerly Pixazza)

February18

Wondering if you should try in-image advertising with Luminate? Here is my review of using Luminate.com to make money on your website!

Want the just of it? I used Luminate for 30 days and with nearly 1 million image views, I made a whopping $0.11. Whew! At this rate, I’ll make the minimum Luminate payout of $25 in…19 YEARS.

Luminate Earnings Review

I ran Luminate on a highly trafficed celebrity gossip blog, that gets several thousand unique visitors per day. I took the time to manually tag 100 of my photos, since I figured that the “product in the picture” feature would be the biggest earner on a celebrity website, and I installed the following Luminate applications:

– Annotations
– Image Overlay Ads
– Amazon MP3 Music
– Product in the Picture
– Share via E-Mail
– Share via Facebook

While Luminate looks promising with all of it’s fancy javascript and neat-o apps, I had an idea that Luminate would not be paying out much…but $0.11?! Come on. That is just ridiculous. The website that I tested Luminate on makes $XXXX with Adsense and $XXX with InfoLinks per month. Luminate is by far the weakest earner that I have ever used in an attempt to monetize the traffic my websites get.

Syd’s Super Cute Homemade Unicorn Costume

January11

Last year, I made my daughter a homemade Baby Gaga costume and really had no idea what I was going to make her for Halloween 2011. At the last minute, I had an epiphany and decided that I was going to make a unicorn costume for my 2 year old! I had no idea how easy or hard it would be, but it ended up being fairly easy and came out SUPER cute. Here is the final product:

Adorable Toddler Unicorn Costume

I had a vague idea on how I wanted the costume to look, but after visiting the fabric store, they didn’t have any of the fabrics I needed for my original vision. So, I headed over to the sale fabric pile and started digging. I ended up with a low-pile white faux fur, a longer white faux fur, purple faux fur and this really neat looking purplish velvet with metallic sparkle. I then picked up some gold spandex for the horn and hooves.

Fabric to make DIY unicorn costume:

Fabric to make DIY unicorn costume

I started the costume by making the hood, since I figured that would be the most important part of a unicorn costume. I made the hood out of the low-pile white faux fur, lined it with the purple sparkly velvet and made the ears first.

Unicorn costume with ears:

Unicorn costume with ears

After successfully making and attaching the unicorn ears to the hood, I made the mane and horn. For the horn, I sewed the gold spandex onto a piece of felt and made a cone. This gave it enough body to stand up on it’s own without being to hard or heavy. For the mane I cut strips of the long white faux fur and the purple fur.

Unicorn hood with horn and mane:

Unicorn costume hood with horn and mane

Unicorn mane backview:

Unicorn mane backview:

I sewed the strips of mane in alternating colors into the seam of the hood. Then I hand sewed a piece of gold trim in a swirl pattern down the horn and hand sewed the horn to the hood. Finally, I sewed the lining in and the hood was finished!

Finished unicorn hood:

Finished unicorn hood

I then procrastinated until the day of Halloween to make the rest of the costume, so I don’t have pictures of the individual pieces (oops!). But, I made a simple sheath dress out of the low-pile white faux fur, with a zipper front. I attached the hood to the dress and made a tail out of the long white faux fur that I sewed to the back of the dress. I then made arm and leg warmers out of the gold spandex and attached fur to the front, so that the gold spandex fit over her shoes and hands to look like golden hooves.

Here are some more pictures of Sydney’s super cute homemade unicorn costume in action!


Kids Unicorn Costume - Back View

Toddler Unicorn Costume Tail and Mane

Finished DIY Unicorn Costume

Toddler unicorn costume - side view

The Baby Gaga Costume

July5

Completed Baby Gaga Costume!Last year, I made my 1-year old daughter a homemade Baby Gaga costume for Halloween and it was a HUGE hit. I finally got around to posting the pictures and even made a funny Baby Gaga video (see below).

The costume was really fun to make and it was easier then it looks. I would say you would need intermediate sewing skills to make a DIY Baby Gaga costume, just because sewing spandex can be a little tricky. Or, you could find a baby leotard and go from there. The trick is the hood and attaching the wig to the hood, since most babies will wear hoods, but most will not wear a wig. Sydney actually really enjoyed wearing her Baby Gaga costume and kept the hood/wig on for the entire party. I was shocked!

Here is Sydney busting out her best Baby Gaga dance moves and more pictures of how the Baby Gaga costume was made:

If you are looking for a funny/hilarious costume for your baby or toddler, I highly recommend the Baby Gaga costume. It was really fun! I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I am going to make Sydney for Halloween 2012, so I’m hoping I can top the Baby Gaga costume!

More pictures of my homemade Baby Gaga toddler Halloween costume:

Can You Potty Train an Infant?

February25

While I was pregnant, my good friend Heather sent me an interesting book called “Diaper Free“, which explains the philosophy of natural infant hygiene, which is essentially beginning potty training from birth. Before my daughter was even born, I bought her a potty and planned on starting potty training my wonderful bundle of joy shortly after she was born…Unfortunately things don’t usually go as planned when you have children and poor Sydney was SO colicky for the first 4 months that I was not about to sit her on a potty and try and teach her anything while she cried her little eyes out.

When Sydney was around 5 1/2 months, I started my own form of potty training. The diaper free philosophy is pretty simple: Whenever your baby is pooping or peeping, use a word or sound that they will eventually associate with doing their business. After a while, when you say the magic word (or sound) they will pee and/or poop on command. For example, ever since Sydney was born, whenever I noticed that she was pooping, I would say “Poopoo”. Now, whenever I take off her diaper for a diaper change, I sit her on her little potty and ask her: “Do you have to go poopoo or peepee?”. I’ll say it a couple of times and if nothing happens after a minute or two, I’ll put her back on the changing table and put a new diaper on her.

Well, guess what happened today?! I put Sydney on her potty, asked the magic question (“Do you have to go poopoo or peepee?”) and she pooped in her potty! Syndey is 7.5 months old. It will be interesting to see if this is a case of impeccable timing, or if she is starting to understand the concept of using the potty. My main goal is to just get her used to sitting on a potty, rather then to just spring it on her when she is 2, but hey, if this leads to early potty training, I’m all for it!

Update (2/26): It wasn’t a fluke! Sydney pooped and peed in her potty again today, immediately after I sat her on it and said the magic words. Cool!

Do I Look Like Diane Kruger?

February22

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and Stefan and I were talking to another couple when all of the sudden this guy got a suspicious look on his face and said, “Are you an actress?”. I laughed it off (especially since I had just rolled out of bed and was not wearing any makeup and was totally dressed down), and ask them who they thought I looked like. “Oh, we thought you may have been Diane Kruger!”.

I looked up Diane Kruger when I got home and I was actually surprised…We DO actually look similar. Diane Kruger and I are about the same age and we do have a similar face shape, cheek bones, jawline and facial spacing. Weird!

Well, at least I got mistaken for someone that is pretty. I used to get, “You look like Paris Hilton!” a lot when I was younger and that would just piss me off since I do not think Paris is attractive, at all.

F-U Wired Magazine (and Some Facts about Vaccines)

February20

I (used to) love Wired magazine. It is normally filled with excellent, intelligent and interesting articles, but after receiving their November 2009 issue, with the cute baby on the cover with “FEAR” written across it’s body, with the tag line: “Vaccines don’t cause autism. But some panicked parents are skipping their baby’s shots. Why that bad decision endangers us all.”

Since I’ve recently had a baby and had to deal with the serious influence of what EVERYONE else thinks that I should have injected into my baby, I immediately flipped to the Wired vaccine article, expecting to read something important and interesting. Instead I wasted my time reading a bunch of crap about a single man (Paul Offit) that is the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine (so he is a man that has made multi-millions off of it) and how he does not think that vaccines cause autism. Well that’s nice. OH, the guy that made the vaccine and has made millions (billions?) of dollars off of it says that he thinks it is safe for your child. Well, okay. End of story! Off to the vaccination clinic for me!!!

A quote from the Wired vaccine article:

(counterintuitively, higher rates of non-vaccination often correspond with higher levels of education and wealth)

“Counterintuitively”?! Oh really? Yeah, well there is a reason why people that choose to educate themselves and actually do a little research are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

I could spend days ranting about vaccines, quoting articles and explaining why I have chosen not to vaccinate my baby, but how about this: Let’s just stick to the facts for now.

Let’s start with the most commonly talked about and most common childhood vaccine. The MMR vaccine. This vaccine is to immunize your child against measles, mumps and rubella (german measles).

The Measles – What happens if you get the measles: You’ll have a rash, fever, red eyes, sore joints. What you should do if you get the measles: Nothing. Most patients with uncomplicated measles will recover with rest and supportive treatment. Cases of measles in the USA in 2009: 70.

The Mumps: What happens if you get the mumps: You’ll have swelling, fever, headache. Could possibly have dry mouth, sore face, temporary loss of voice and/or inflammation of the testicles (in males past puberty). What you should do if you get the measles: Nothing. The disease is self-limiting (the condition would run its course without the need of external influence, especially any medical treatment), and general outcome is good, even if other organs are involved. Cases of mumps in the USA in 2009: 179.

Rubella: What happens if you get rubella: You’ll have a rash, fever, headache, swollen glands and red eyes. What you should do if you get rubella: Nothing. The disease is self-limiting (the condition would run its course without the need of external influence, especially any medical treatment). Rubella infection of children and adults is usually mild, self-limiting and often asymptomatic. Cases of rubella in the USA in 2009: 11.

Okay, so let’s weigh the risk of your child getting the measles, mumps or rubella versus the risk of getting the MMR vaccine. The chances of getting the measles, mumps or rubella is very very very slim. If your child did end up getting one of these diseases, 99% of the time these illnesses require no medical care, as they are self-limiting (the condition would run its course without the need of external influence, especially any medical treatment) and there are no long term effects. So in trying to prevent a child from getting a disease that he/she will most likely not contract and that is easily curable and requires no medical intervention, we are injecting them with a vaccine that admittedly could cause the following:

– Fever
– Panniculitis (tender skin nodules and systemic signs such as weight loss and fatigue)
– Atypical measles
– Malaise (a feeling of general discomfort or uneasiness)
– Syncope (loss of consciousness)
– Vasculitis (a heterogeneous group of disorders that are characterized by inflammatory destruction of blood vessels)
– Irritability
– Dizziness
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Nausea
– Mild rash
– Swelling
– Seizure
– Pain & stiffness in the joints
– Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder
– Serious allergic reaction
– Deafness
– Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
– Permanent brain damage

Shall I go on? Because there are many more possible side effects of the MMR vaccine. Don’t believe it? Read the insert to the MMR vaccine insert from Merck.

In attempting to prevent your child from the slim to no risk of contacting a mild disease that just simply goes away without treatment, you are injecting them with something that ADMITTEDLY can cause serious debilitating and life threatening side effects. Why? Because Merck (the drug company that makes this vaccine) makes BILLIONS of dollars a year selling it to you. And they spend millions of dollars marketing these drugs/vaccines to you, to make you think that you need them. I can almost guarantee that you have seen a Merck advertisement and you probably had no idea it was an advertisement rather then some important medical announcement. Amazing.

So, okay, the drug companies won’t admit that vaccines can cause autism. But they do admit that they can cause brain damage (I don’t really see the big difference). I really wish people would educate themselves about any drug or vaccine that they give their child (or themselves for that matter) before doing so. Injecting your baby with all of these “recommended” vaccines without researching the possible side effects and weighing the risks is foolish, in my opinion. And if you are so frightened about the possibility that your child could get the measles that you are willing to risk giving them brain damage, then by all means, be my guest.

I Had a Puerto Rican Baby!

August9

Well, what do you know…there really was a baby in there! On July 26th at 11:10pm, my daughter decided it was time to be born. Introducing Sydney James Rest!

sydney james rest

I gave birth to this little cutie pie in a Puerto Rican hospital with NO pain medication. All I can say is WOW. There were no complications but that whole child birth thing is certainly an experience!! I will write more about that later ;)…

Yes, Men Can Breast Feed

June17

Did you know that men are physically able to breast feed their children (or anyones child, really)? Men and women both have all the right equipment for breast feeding, which are: nipples, milk ducts, mammary tissue and hormones (specifically oxytocin and prolactin). So if a man wants to breast feed his kid, he simply needs to have the child suck on his nipple. The nipple stimulation will trigger the hormones to be releases, and like magic, Daddy is lactating…

man breast feeding

Even weirder then the thought of men breast feeding their babies, is the total lack of studies on male lactation. It’s like there is a total cover up of the subject. Most of the information I have been able to find is “Yes, men can produce breast milk, but nothing else is known…” or “…no one knows if mens breast milk has the same nutritional value of womens…”, etc. So you’re telling me that we can grow human ears on the backs of lab rats, successfully transplant animal organs into humans, but we can’t find out the nutritional value of mens breast milk versus women? Come on…

Don’t get me wrong, I would be a little skeeved out if I saw a man breast feeding a child, but that’s just because we’ve all been taught that that is weird and unnatural. Nonetheless, I might have to try and milk Stefan with my breast pump…for the sake of science, of course!

posted under Babies, Boobs, Weird | 11 Comments »

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs are Toxic

April22

bad energy bulbThese new energy efficient lightbulbs have really been on my mind lately. And I’m really, really, really annoyed about them!

These bulbs are being marketed as being “green” and “earth friendly” because they save energy, BUT did you know that they contain MERCURY and need to be properly disposed of or else they pollute the plant with toxic mercury? How many times have you properly disposed of one of these curly light bulbs and NOT just tossed it into the trashcan? I ask because, I for one, have just thrown them away, because who the hell reads the fine print on the back of a lightbulb package?!

Stefan and I had no idea that we were supposed to be “properly disposing” of these light bulbs until a friend of ours who is an electrician told us what a crock of sh*t this bulbs really are. We discussed it briefly and I was even skeptical about what our friend was saying, because I couldn’t fathom that that these light bulbs, that have been so highly touted (genius marketing), could be polluting the earth. Well, read the back of your little curly lightbulb box. It’s all there.

So, what is worse? Using slightly more energy or dumping mercury into the earth? Do you really think we are going to run out of energy with the solar, wind and hydro power that is now available? Or is it really just that important to people to save $2 on their electricity bill?

I, for one, am going back to the cheaper, non-toxic light bulbs.

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